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Erica Sood, PhD, discusses her Pediatric Academic Societies meeting workshop focused on improving emotional health in children with chronic conditions

Video

Erica Sood, PhD, Nemours Children’s Health pediatric psychologist, discusses her workshop focused on improving the emotional health of children with chronic conditions, which will be presented at the 2023 Pediatric Academic Societies meeting held in Washington, DC from April 27 to May 1.

Contemporary Pediatrics®:

Hi, everyone, and thanks for watching. I'm Joshua Fitch, editor for Contemporary Pediatrics®.

Erica Sood, PhD:

And I'm Erica Sood, I'm a pediatric psychologist at Nemours Children's Health in Delaware, and I'm also director of the cardiac learning early development program.

Contemporary Pediatrics®:

Dr. Sood, thank you so much for taking the time. The Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) meeting begins April 27, runs through May 1 in Washington, DC, you'll be attending, tell us what you'll be presenting and why you feel it's important to do so.

Sood:

Yeah, so I'm presenting as part of a workshop focused on improving the emotional health of children with chronic conditions and their families. Mental health challenges are very common the general population of children and their families, and when children have a chronic health condition, we know that the rates of mental health difficulties can increase. And yet, even though children with chronic health conditions are going to see their healthcare providers quite frequently, many healthcare providers are not comfortable initiating conversations about emotional health with children with with chronic health conditions and their families. The goal of this presentation, and this workshop is really to help providers, you know, and healthcare professionals identify tools and practice those tools to be able to initiate conversations about emotional health and address emotional health in their health care visits.

Contemporary Pediatrics®:

Thank you very much for that, can you go into detail at all about what some of those tools would be just on a general sense?

Sood:

Absolutely. So I'm one presenter in the workshop, and I'll talk a little bit about what I'll be presenting on. I am presenting on a novel clinical approach called normalize-ask-pause-connect, and this approach is designed for healthcare professionals without specialized training and mental health. So you don't need to be a mental health provider to make a difference when it comes to children's emotional health. And so the first step is really to normalize the challenges that children or families are going through right to say something like, you know, I know from working with other children, that, that this illness, you know, can be really difficult, and sometimes people can feel sad or anxious. The next step is to ask, ask a brief open ended question like, "what's that been like for you?" Then to pause and make sure that, you're thinking about your nonverbal communications, that you're facing the patient. Ideally, you're sitting down, you don't have your hand on the door, you're not charting while you're asking these questions, and then connect with the patient, you know, or the family. So let them know that you've heard them, thank them for sharing, connect them with resources that may be available, you know, in your healthcare setting or within the community. So this approach is, it's simple, it's straightforward, and it's something I hope that healthcare providers can use, even without specialized training and mental health.

Contemporary Pediatrics®:

You mentioned engaging with the patient and with the family directly in the pediatric space, a child, what can that do for a child to see the health care provider interacting with them on such a personal level there?

Sood:

Absolutely. I mean, I think it can be common to, to talk with the parent parents, right? And when you ask the child a question, or the adolescent a child a question, they may look to their parents to respond, because that's what's happened kind of throughout their lives, and so it's really important to engage the child or the adolescent themselves, and to really just normalize what they might be going through and to let them know that that's okay. So if they are feeling scared, or if they are feeling down, to know that others have felt the same way, and that this is a space, you know, in the health care clinic setting where they can talk about those feelings, and their health care provider is someone that they can share that with. So I think that's very important. It's also important to engage with the parents, not just around the child's emotional health, but also the parent and family's emotional health.

Contemporary Pediatrics®:

Certainly, when you think of a conference like PAS, so many people in one space, what is the biggest benefit someone like yourself and others attending this conference can take away?

Sood:

There's the opportunity to step away from the the setting where we we are working in our daily lives where we're very busy, and to just interact with others, you know, perhaps from different disciplines. So I'm a psychologist, I'm not a pediatrician, and so, being there I get to interact with you know, people from a variety of different disciplines, many different pediatric specialties, and they may hear a different perspective from me that that they may not, you know, get within their clinic setting. I think it's going to be a great conference and I'm looking forward to it and, you know, come and learn about emotional health.

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